Kidney Stone Vs. Bladder Infection

Diagram of the kidney
Diagram of the kidney (Image: Image by, courtesy of hobvias sudoneighm)

Kidney stones and bladder infections both affect the urinary tract system. A kidney stone is a rock-like object that forms in the kidneys and passes through the ureters and into the bladder. A bladder infection, if left untreated, can move into the kidneys and can cause severe damage.


A kidney stone usually makes its presence known through a sharp pain in the lower back around the kidney or in the lower abdomen. Bladder infections cause frequent urination, fatigue and pain upon urination.

Kidney Stone Diagnosis

A kidney stone can be diagnosed with an x-ray or by ultrasound--if the stone is large enough. In some cases, if the stone is smaller or difficult to locate, the physician might request a CT scan.

Bladder Infection Diagnosis

A physician will request a “clean catch” urine sample in which the genital area is sanitized so the genital bacteria won’t mix with the urine. The sample will be sent to a lab where it will be cultured to see what type of bacteria grows.

Kidney Stone Treatment

Small kidney stones can pass through the urinary system without intervention but larger stones need to be surgically removed or blasted to smaller pieces through a process called lithotripsy. This process uses sound waves to break up the stone.

Bladder Infection Treatment

Bladder infections are treated with antibiotics. A physician will use the results of the urine culture to write a prescription for an antibiotic that will properly treat that particular strain of bacteria.


To help prevent bladder infections, drink plenty of water, urinate often, wipe from front to back and take showers instead of tub baths. Depending on the type of kidney stone, the physician may recommend changes in diet that will help prevent stones from forming.

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